Thursday, December 25, 2008

¡Feliz Navidad!

Isaiah 9:2, 6
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined. . .

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;

And the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called:
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! As we celebrate Jesus' birth let us not forget his death and resurrection. Let us not forget that there are many people in the world who are still grope around in darkness. May we all this Christmas season and throughout the new year faithfully share the good news of the Child who was born, who is indeed Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. For it is this Son who was given that bore the wrath of God on the cross for all who believe, rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead. As we faithfully proclaim the gospel and as God opens the eyes of the blind, may those who walk in darkness see a great light!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

from “The Valley of Vision - A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions” compiled by Arthur Bennett


Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,

my heart admires, adores, loves Thee,

for my little vessel is as full as it can be,

and I would pour out all that fullness before Thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with Thee

ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,

ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,

ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,

crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless Thee for the soul Thou hast created,

for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body Thou hast given me,

for preserving its strength and vigor,

for providing senses to enjoy delights,

for the ease and freedom of my limbs,

for hands, eyes, ears that do Thy bidding;

for Thy royal bounty providing my daily support,

for a full table and overflowing cup,

for appetite, taste, sweetness,

for social joys of relatives and friends,

for ability to serve others,

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,

for a mind to care for my fellow-men,

for opportunities of spreading happiness around,

for loved ones in the joys of heaven,

for my own expectation of seeing Thee clearly.

I love Thee above the powers of language to express,

for what Thou art to Thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity. Amen

Monday, November 24, 2008

One Month Update

It hard to believe that I've been here for a whole month now. Things seem to be going well. I've gotten used to the rutine. I'm still taking the barefoot language class. Last week, we went to several field trips as a part of the class. We went to the basilica, an art museum, and a hospital. We have also sampled various fruits and vegetables that are popular in Costa Rica. It has been really exciting.

My Spanish is coming along. I can read in Spanish pretty well (i.e. accompanied by a dictionary). Using it in conversation is more difficult. Hearing it is even more difficult, especially outside of class (Spanish teachers tend to speak more slowly). But I am beginning to hear more words and make out more sentences. Poco a poco.

At the basilica, we were able to see firsthandthe overwhelming darkness of Catholicism and the stronghold it has on the people. It is indeed a Christless religion of works and traditions mixed with paganism which Satan is using it to deceive many. It is close to truth yet so far away at the same time. Please pray that the light of the true gospel of Christ would shine this dark place, that dead bones would be quickened, and that blind eyes would see and deaf ears would hear the Truth!

This past weekend, all of the IMB missionaries had a conference on Bible-storying. It was interesting, but had a lot of repition from orientaion in Virginia. I was able to meet more of the IMB missionaries that are here.

On Thursday, we are having a Thanksgiving Day Supper at the Institute—a time for food, fellowship, and giving thanks to God. I am looking forward to it.

For the Glory of His Name and the Furtherance of His Kingdom,

Friday, October 31, 2008

First week update.

This is a picture of the house where I live here in San José, Cost Rica. I am living with a tico family (tico a word Costa Ricans use to refer to themselves). Roberto and Marilys Ramirez are a couple with three children: Samuel, 10; Daniel, 5; and Raquel, 4. They are a great family, and I am learning much Spanish by living with them. My room is small, but I have a private bathroom. Here is a picture of my room. Marilys and Roberto can speak English very well and have helped me with my Spanish. The oldest son know English pretty well, but still struggles a little. I have had most of my meals with my tico family. The food has been muy rico. In fact, I have yet to have any American food since I have been here. It has all been Costa Rican food and a few times, Chinese food.

Every morning, I have a Spanish class which uses a barefoot method. We all meet at the Grumble's house at 7:30 and have devotions. The class begins at 8:00. Our teacher uses only Spanish as she teaches. At the end of the class, she gives us assignments to go to a store are mall to practice our Spanish. The next day, the teacher will begin by asking us about our experience practicing Spanish.

We are at the end of the rainy season, so it has been raining a lot. When it is not raining, the weather has been quite nice. In about two week, the dry season begins.

Yesterday, I discovered a Hipermás, a store very much like Walmart. I got some Dr. Pepper, Guaraná, and a telephone with a cord. (I have a magicjack phone set up which works through the Internet. The signal from the cordless phone I had was interfering with the wireless signal. Getting a phone with a cord remedied the problem.)

Tomorrow, I am going to explore the city a little more through the guidance of Ryan Buttes, a student at the Spanish Language Institute.

Thanks for your prayers. Pray especially for language and cultural acquisition.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm in Costa Rica

I am now in Costa Rica. My plane left Nashville early yesterday morning. I had a two hour lay over in Atlanta. In Atlanta, I met up with four other families who are also going to the Spanish Language Institute. By 11:45 am CST, we were in San José. All of my luggage made it. After going through immigration and customs, we were each taken to our new homes. I am staying with the Ramirez's, a local family. They are a young couple with three children. After dropping off my things , I went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. I then went back to the house to unpack and visit more with the Ramirez's. I am having a little difficulty setting up my phone, but hopefully I will have it set up soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Week to Go!

Thank you for you prayers; they are greatly appreciated.

Here is a quick up date. A couple of weeks ago, I completed field personnel orientation in Virginia. I had a great time at FPO. I went through many hours of sessions about church planting movements, spiritual warfare, doctrine, principles of language study, legal and financial stuff, ESL training, and more. I had about six immunizations. Moreover, I now have many new friends. I am now back in Alabama. Next Thursday at 5:40 AM, I will be flying out bound for San José, Costa Rica for language study. Please, continue in your prayers for me.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pray for me:

• Visa stuff
• Preparation during this final week before I leave the States
• Safety in travel on October 23
• Smooth transition after I arrive in Costa Rica
• Language and cultural acquisition during my time in language school so that I can proclaim the gospel of Christ with clarity
• Dependence upon God
• Wisdom that comes from above
• The supremacy of Christ in all of life
• Boldness as God opens doors for the gospel
• Guidance by the Spirit
• Devotion to prayer and the Word
• That the Spirit go before me, preparing the hearts of the people to hear the gospel, convicting them of the sinfulness of their sin, regenerating their hearts, and pointing them to Christ and the cross

Isaiah 43:6b-7 — Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name and whom I have created for My glory whom I have formed, even whom I have made.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Grateful and Blessed

I've made it to the International Learning Center (ILC). Since it is over a twelve hour drive from the Shoals and my having to arrive at ILC prior to 5 PM, I decided to split up the drive. I left Alabama on Sunday right after the morning service at Grace Life and arrived at Ninth & O Baptist Church (where I was a member while at Southern Seminary) just in time for the evening service. I had planned to leave for ILC yesterday morning, but God had other plans in mind and had me stay in Louisville for a day. Indeed, though a man plans his ways, the Lord directs his steps (Prov 16:9). While pulling in the parking lot of Ninth & O, my front tire blew out. I am grateful to God that it happened where it did instead of on the interstate at 70 mph. Moreover, I was able to see more of my friends, particular Chris Mitchell who helped me get a new tire. I left early this morning and made it to Rockville without any trouble. For most of the trip, I listened to the book The Shadow of the Almighty on my mp3 player which was a blessing. I am looking forward to finishing it this week should time permit. I may listen to it again on my return trip in a couple of months. Thank you for your prayers.

In His Abundant Grace,

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pray for me!

Here is my prayer card. Please support me by earnestly praying before the Father.

My Itinerary:
• In August and September, I will be at Field Personnel Orientation (FPO) in Virginia for two months of training with the International Mission Board (IMB).
• I will spend the first three weeks of October in Alabama.
• Then, I will be going to San José, Costa Rica for language study.
• After language school, I will work as an strategy coordinator intern in Perú.
• Finally, I will serve as a strategy coordinator and church planter among the lowland Quechua of Bolivia in the San Julián region a few hours north of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

For the Geographically Challenged:
• Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, approximately in the middle of South America.
• Bolivia borders Perú, Brasil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile.
• The western half of the country lies in the Andes mountains.
• The eastern half is jungle lowlands.
• Bolivia has two capital cities La Paz (administrative branch) and Sucre (constitutional and judicial branches).

Bolivians are Roman Catholic with a mixture of traditional animism (such syncreticism is even more evident among indigenous groups). Protestant missionaries have often further this cycle of syncretism due to inadequate presentations of the gospel.